No return to neoliberalism for Labour, Chuka Umunna says

The former leadership candidate said the party needed to change course, however

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The Labour party needs to change course to avert a “relentless slide toward electoral oblivion” but should not return to advocating New Labour-era “neoliberal” economic policies, Chuka Umunna has said.

In an essay about the party’s future the Labour MP and former leadership hopeful suggested that re-thinking Jeremy Corbyn’s platform did not mean a return to Blairism. Mr Umunna called for “not a return to New Labour, nor collapse into electoral failure and recrimination” 

“We need a new direction. There is an alternative to Labour’s growing political irrelevance and a deviation from our current path does not mean a return to New Labour or to neo-liberal market capitalism,” he wrote in the essay for the New Statesman magazine.

The Streatham MP said Labour had sometimes neglected its aims to “represent working people and to redress the imbalance of power between capital and labour” when last in office though it had made “many socialist achievements”. 

He stressed that the essay was “not a policy programme” but instead designed to provoke debate. He suggested Labour advocate more workers’ control of industry, increased reciprocity in the social security system, and increased control for local communities over policy – including a rationalised immigration system.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell, as well as former leadership candidate Liz Kendall, have both suggested giving workers more control of their firms with representation on company boards. 

Labour flirted with the idea of increased reciprocity in welfare under Ed Miliband but the party's manifesto did not contain significant plans relating to the policy area. A regionalised immigration system was floated by deputy leader Tom Watson earlier this year.

Mr Umunna, long thought to be the frontrunner for the Labour leadership, dropped out of the 2015 race citing personal reasons and the race's impact on his family life.  

Previously shadow business secretary, since the leadership election he has declined to serve on Jeremy Corbyn’s front bench.